How to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants: 8 Simple Ways

Are you in the restaurant and catering business and looking for ways to impact the environment positively? One area where you can start is by addressing food waste.

Running a food service business entails a variety of jobs, but one that is sometimes forgotten is the solution to food waste in restaurants. It costs eateries a whopping $162 billion every year.

Restaurants alone create over 33 billion pounds of food waste each year. This is a severe problem, especially since about 50 million Americans are food deprived. But don’t worry. The news isn’t all awful.

You can make a difference by learning ways to reduce food waste and implementing a restaurant recycling program. Soon you can be well on your way to running a more sustainable business.

This article contains some helpful tips for reducing catering waste and food waste in restaurants. So, let’s begin!

8 Best Ways to Reduce Food Waste in Restaurants

The most effective strategies for waste management in the catering and restaurant business are:

1. Examine Food Waste

The first step in food waste control is to perform an extensive audit. This will assist you in identifying the places where the majority of garbage happens and the causes behind it.

Understanding the core reasons allows you to develop focused measures to avoid waste and increase efficiency.

2. Use Waste Equipment

Investing in trash equipment can help expedite waste management procedures and reduce food waste. Consider putting the following into action:

  • Trash Compactors: Trash compactors compress waste, lowering its volume and reducing the number of trash collections. This not only saves money but also saves space in trash storage locations.
  • Food Waste Disposers: These disposers grind food scraps into small particles that may subsequently be sent down the drain. This helps keep food waste out of landfills.
  • Recycling Equipment: Implementing recycling equipment, such as compactors for recyclable materials such as cardboard, plastic, and glass, can aid in the separation and management of recyclables.
  • Composting System: Consider installing on-site composting systems to transform food waste into nutrient-rich compost. This compost may be utilized for gardening and landscaping or donated to local farmers or community gardens.

3. Make Menus More Flexible

Flexibility is essential when it comes to reducing food waste in restaurants. Consider giving daily specials or developing meals that can be readily updated based on ingredient availability. In this manner, you may use up leftover materials while reducing waste.

4. Effectively Manage and Store Stock

Proper stock management and storage practices are critical to avoiding food waste. Maintain an organized inventory waste system and rotate stock first-in, first-out. This will assist in keeping ingredients from going bad or expiring.

5. Proper Food Storage

Proper food storage is critical for preserving freshness and preventing deterioration. To extend the shelf life of perishable foods, keep them at the correct temperatures and in airtight containers.

Additionally, label all products with the date of purchase to guarantee that they are used on time.

6. Calculate and Control Inventory

Keeping track of your inventory days can significantly assist in efficient catering waste management. You may discover slow-moving products and optimize your purchase by periodically checking your inventory turnover ratio. This reduces the likelihood of food going to waste.

7. Reduce Serving Sizes

Overly generous serving sizes frequently result in uneaten food being thrown away. Consider reducing serving sizes or encouraging consumers to take leftovers home with them. This way, you can minimize food waste and provide an outstanding client experience.

8. Donate Leftovers to Charity

Rather than throwing away leftovers, try collaborating with local organizations or food banks to donate extra food. This not only assists people in need but also guarantees that food is used rather than squandered. When giving food, make sure you follow all food safety standards.

Importance of Food Waste Management in Restaurant or Catering Business

Being in this business, you must’ve calculated that the overall cost of food waste in the food service industry is enormous. And do you know that every stage of the food life cycle wastes resources, energy, water, and money?

The production and transportation of food also contribute to climate change emissions.

So you must implement effective restaurant and catering waste management strategies soon. This way, you can appeal to environmentally concerned customers while saving money.

And, by preventing food waste, you can benefit both the environment and your wallet.

Types of Restaurant Food Waste

There are two sorts of restaurant food waste that you can frequently see:

1. Pre-consumer Waste

The first is pre-consumer waste, which is food that is thrown away before it reaches the consumer. This can include trimmings, spoiled products, or leftover dinner parts.

2. Post-consumer Waste

The second form is post-consumer waste, which consumers leave uneaten. This might happen due to overordering, plate waste, incomplete meals, or many more.

What are the causes of food waste in restaurants?

Factors that cause food waste in restaurants and hotels:

  • Overproduction: Restaurants frequently prepare more food than is required in order to fulfill client demand or maintain menu availability. Overproduction might result in excess food that goes to waste.
  • Poor Inventory Management: Food spoilage and expiration before consumption can occur as a result of poor inventory management practices such as faulty stock tracking or insufficient rotation practices.
  • Inadequate Food Preparation: Inefficient preparation techniques, such as over-peeling or excessive ingredient cutting, can result in wasteful food waste.
  • Plate Waste: Customers who leave large portions of food on their plates are a significant source of food waste in restaurants. This might be due to a variety of factors, including high portion sizes and mismatched client preferences.
  • Quality Standards: Even if the food is safe and edible, restaurants may trash it if it does not satisfy their appearance or quality criteria.
  • Seasonal Variations: Seasonal menu changes or fluctuations in client demand might result in over-ordering of certain ingredients, resulting in waste.

By identifying the different causes of food waste, restaurants and hotels can minimize waste and operate more sustainably.

How to Track Food Waste in Restaurants and Hotels

Tracking food waste in restaurants can be accomplished by implementing a few key steps:

  1. Conduct waste audits: analyze the types and amounts of food being discarded.
  2. Record waste data: Use a tracking system to log food waste consistently.
  3. Monitor inventory: Keep track of perishables and their expiration dates to reduce over-ordering.
  4. Train staff: Educate staff on portion control and proper storage practices to minimize food waste.
  5. Implement waste reduction strategies: find ways to repurpose food waste or donate extra food to save waste.


By applying these eight strategies, you can drastically reduce food waste in your restaurant or catering business.

This will not only assist the environment but also boost your profitability and reputation as a socially responsible company. So, take action immediately and become a part of the solution.

Read next:

Some Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. How much money do restaurants lose from food waste?

    Food waste costs vary based on the size and kind of restaurant, but it is believed that many restaurants squander thousands of dollars each year.

  2. Why should restaurants reduce food waste?

    Reducing food waste benefits the environment while also saving money, improving sustainability initiatives, and enhancing the restaurant’s brand by demonstrating a dedication to social responsibility and efficient operations.

  3. Can a restaurant write off spoiled food?

    Yes, restaurants may frequently claim ruined or unsaleable food as a tax deduction, which helps balance some financial losses.

  4. How to calculate food waste percentages in restaurants?

    Specify the time frame. Keep track of all food purchases and consumption amounts. Calculate the entire amount of food purchased and consumed, and then weigh and measure the food waste produced within the selected time period.
    For example, if 1000 kg of food is purchased and 200 kg is wasted, the proportion of food waste is 20% (200/1000).

Dipayan Mondal
Dipayan Mondal

Dipayan is the author of this blog. He completed his hotel management degree from GNIHM, Kolkata. And he is very passionate about the hospitality industry. And right now, he is working as a successful hotelier in a 5-star hotel.